Insurance Disputes: What Is a Public Adjuster?

A public adjuster is a professional who acts as an agent for policyholders during insurance disputes. A public adjuster acts within a policyholder’s best interests to negotiate with an insurance company in return for a percentage of the client’s recovery or a flat fee. Whether a public adjuster is a wise choice for your insurance dispute, however, depends on your goals.

What Is a Public Adjuster?

In Florida, an insurance claims adjuster can earn a license to become a public adjuster. An insurance claims adjuster investigates and analyzes claims submitted by policyholders. The insurance claims adjuster is the person who will recommend to the insurance company whether or not to accept a client’s claim. If an insurance adjuster becomes a licensed public adjuster, he or she will no longer work for the insurance company, however. Instead, he or she works for policyholders.

The tasks of a public adjuster are to inspect property damages after an accident, evaluate the scope of the damage, estimate repair costs, help the client document the damage and handle negotiations with the insurance company. A public adjuster takes care of many tasks a client would otherwise have to do him or herself to receive a settlement for a property damage claim. In addition, an adjuster will have professional knowledge about how the insurance process works.

To become a public adjuster, the individual must fulfill strict state requirements to obtain a license. Then, the adjuster must continually complete special training to keep the license. This training may involve education about construction and contracting for property damage insurance claims. A public adjuster makes money by either charging clients a flat rate or keeping a percentage of any settlement the client receives from an insurance company.

Pros and Cons of Working With a Public Adjuster

Working with a public adjuster can be better than dealing with a property damage insurance claim on your own. Insurance companies in Florida often take advantage of clients during the claims process. An insurance provider may try to save money by denying liability, denying a valid claim, delaying payout or minimizing the value of a property damage claim. A public adjuster could give you an edge by providing professional negotiations with the insurance company. Since many public adjusters are previous insurance claims adjusters, they know how the other side operates.

Involving any type of claims professional could benefit you as opposed to handling an insurance claim alone. However, a public adjuster might not be the right choice in terms of representation. A public adjuster has significant limitations you would not find with a Florida property insurance claims lawyer. A lawyer, for example, will have the power to file an insurance bad faith claim on your behalf after dealing with unfair or illegal tactics by an insurer. A public adjuster is not a lawyer and therefore cannot handle legal processes such as claims filing or a bad faith action.

When to Hire a Property Insurance Lawyer in Florida

Although hiring a public adjuster might be better than handling a property damage claim alone, your best option may be to hire a property insurance lawyer in Tampa. Homeowners in Florida generally recover better settlements with help from lawyers compared to public adjusters. An insurance dispute attorney has the advantage of being able to take your claim to trial if that is necessary for maximum compensation.

Hiring a lawyer can also come with advantages such as aggressive negotiators working toward securing better results on your behalf. A law firm will have professional resources and connections to help you build a stronger claim. A lawyer can also answer your legal questions, talk you through coverage issues, accurately evaluate your losses and handle the same tasks as a public adjuster. Discuss whether a lawyer would benefit your claim during a consultation with an attorney near you.